Evan Schwartz: Let’s not be trigger-happy

Hope and change may be at an all-time high in America right now, but so is something else – gun sales.

In the lead-up to this month’s presidential election, a jarring statistic caught my eye. October 2008 saw a 49 percent increase in gun license sales over October 2007. People have the fundamental right to own guns. But it should be so difficult to own a gun in this country and regulations should be so tight that only qualified people can get them into their hands.

In the last few months, not only have gun sales shot up across the country, but our own home city was forced to strike down legislation that restricted gun sales.

The Firearms Controls Regulations Act of 1976 had barred D.C. residents from owning handguns within the city limits, but it was challenged on the basis that those guns are considered “arms,” and Americans all over this great country have the right to “bear” said “arms.”

The issue, of course, is scribbled on a piece of paper more than 200 years old. The Second Amendment to the Constitution guaranteed people the right to arm themselves in order to form state militias. Nowadays most Americans are too fat to even make it on the bus to basic military training, but that does not preclude them from owning multiple guns, in their minds.

In a city like D.C., densely populated and with a great variance in socioeconomic status, it is necessary to have had a law on the books for 30 years amending the Second Amendment. The crime rate demands it.

The Second Amendment simply holds a different meaning in a place like D.C., and was modified in order to protect the citizens – why overturn it? D.C. residents don’t have the right to vote, but heaven forbid they can’t own handguns.

Before dismissing this as the words of an anti-gun maven, understand that my personal relationship with guns is complicated – but living on a college campus in a city now rendered the modern-day metropolitan Wild West, I can’t help but be concerned that anyone around me could be packing.

The NRA and other interest groups have seemingly limitless funds to throw at things like the Firearms Regulations Act, but they need to understand reality. Reality is that little thing that exists despite a document that was written before the invention of child gunlocks, penicillin and “The Matrix.” It was written before presidential assassination attempts or Virginia Tech.

Given what happened that day in Blacksburg, Va., maybe NRA members should worry about their own guns, rather than try to arm everyone in Washington.

The writer is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communication.

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